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Would I like it? What a DREAM! But hey, what happens if I push this red button?
December 12, 2007 4:03 PM   Subscribe

In the early 1950's, Monsanto Chemical Company, MIT and Disneyland collaborated their resources and creative brainpower to build "the house of 1986." Using 30,000 pounds of plastic (The building's structure, carpet, chairs, sinks, appliances and floors were all plastic. About $7,500 to $15,000 worth.), the Monsanto House of the Future* was opened to an excited public in June of 1957. It was closed in 1967 as ideas of the future were beginning to change. Let's take a quick tour, shall we?
*(Not to be confused with Xanadu Homes of Tomorrow.)

Indirectly related.

From this page:

In June of 1957, Disneyland opened Monsanto's House of the Future. It remained for 10 years, finally closing in 1967 with the remodeling of Tomorrowland. In it's short run, more than 20 million visitors got a glimpse of what the future home may include. Such innovations included insulated glass walls, picture telephones, plastic chairs, microwave ovens, speaker phones and electric toothbrushes. The house included three bedrooms, two baths, a living room, a dining room and a family room. Some inventions never came to a reality (yet), including ultrasonic dishwashers, foam-backed plastic floor coverings, atomic food preservation and plastic sinks with adjustable heights. Upon entering the home, a voice would state "Welcome to Monsanto's Home of the Future", and continue to cover the details of construction, which was almost entirely of plastics. Monsanto sponsored the exhibit, but the house itself was built at MIT and remained at Disneyland until it was demolished. A giant wrecking ball was brought in, but bounced off the sturdy plastic construction. A crew of several men had to go in and demolish it by hand, dragging most of it away. Unfortunately, none of the original building was ever salvaged.


From this link:

The house was a hit for people visiting the park, but Monsanto's plans for their prefab home were a complete flop. The aesthetics of a giant, floating plastic X just weren't palatable to the general public. Monsanto quickly dropped any plans of selling the design and settled with just leaving it as an attraction.

When it came time to tear it down in 1967, Disneyland ran into a problem: the house was too well constructed! The wrecking ball they had brought in just bounced harmlessly off the plastic walls. Eventually, each wing had to be pulled off the main core by cables and taken apart by hand. The main core, however, had to be slowly beaten away with pickaxes and shovels. Each small piece dragged away, and not a single one salvaged for history.
posted by miss lynnster (30 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ok...plastic was nice...but, aluminum was better!
posted by HuronBob at 4:10 PM on December 12, 2007


LOLchemists
posted by panamax at 4:10 PM on December 12, 2007


Sorry, but I've been conditioned to watch 1950s educational short films only when Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow are at the bottom of the screen.
posted by Servo5678 at 4:18 PM on December 12, 2007


They forgot to describe the garden, in which the genetically-engineered plants of the future are kept free of weeds by a computer-controlled watering system that delivers a five-minute burst of DDT-enhanced RoundUp on the hour, every hour.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:20 PM on December 12, 2007


Boy, this looks like a spectacular place to throw my pre-Carousel soiree!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:39 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is hilarious. Since I've spent the last year and a half thinking particularly of alternative construction techniques, it's amusing to wonder how brutally expensive this thing would be to make today, what with plastic being a petroleum product and all. Hell, plastic foam is getting to be expensive just as insulation. You gotta love the pop-down cabinets and refrigerators and the pop-up microwave oven. And of course the wrecking ball bouncing off it. I suspect this house would have laughed at Katrina in New Orleans.
posted by localroger at 4:55 PM on December 12, 2007


I want the kitchen of 1986, save for the cold zone for my irradiated foods.

I also need to spend some time contemplating walking around Disneyland in a dress, pearls, hat and gloves and probably heels. That boggled me more than the house, frankly.
posted by Dreama at 4:59 PM on December 12, 2007


Speaking of foam, since the closing of Clark foam, surfboards have at least doubled in price. Their vision seems silly now, but they sure were trying.
posted by snsranch at 5:03 PM on December 12, 2007


And then came Ikea.
posted by meehawl at 5:08 PM on December 12, 2007


Plastic aside, it's a neat design, not overly large and with a very minimal footprint on the earth itself. However, as my wife and I are about to undertake our own house-building adventure, I agree with localroger that this would cost a mint to build today, even with conventional materials.
posted by maxwelton at 5:23 PM on December 12, 2007


House of the future? The perfect place for Chef of the Future!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:25 PM on December 12, 2007


The future didn't turn out so bright for a lot of Monsanto employees.
posted by 2sheets at 6:28 PM on December 12, 2007


They forgot to describe the garden, in which the genetically-engineered plants of the future are kept free of weeds by a computer-controlled watering system that delivers a five-minute burst of DDT-enhanced RoundUp on the hour, every hour.

I'm sorry but that's only for our guests that agree to the NDA. After all, god forbid you get hit with any flying pollen and carry it home - we'd have to sue you out of existence. Like we did to these farmers gene pirates. Don't have the money? You could always kill yourself.
posted by datacenter refugee at 6:31 PM on December 12, 2007


Hey Monsanto, Clockwork Orange called and they want their interiors back!
posted by Afroblanco at 6:50 PM on December 12, 2007


My house of the future is built of strawbales. Humongous insulation factor, impossible to burn down, and wide, wide windowsills where I can sit and read.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:53 PM on December 12, 2007


Imagine being the first family in your neighborhood to actually own and live in a plastic house. One day your third grade son brings home a friend after school. You overhear their conversation as they walk in the front door. "Your house smells" exclaims the little guest...
posted by Tube at 7:15 PM on December 12, 2007


If that thing caught fire the coal-black smoke plume would undoubtedly be visible from orbit.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:22 PM on December 12, 2007


the coal-black smoke plume would undoubtedly be visible from orbit.

At which point, the only reasonable thing to do would be to nuke it from orbit. Only way to be sure.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:38 PM on December 12, 2007


Off-topic: I read that Monsanto Wikipedia article and it mentions that the company just acquired Seminis Inc., the world's largest grower of fruit and vegetable seeds. Is anyone else a bit concerned that one company has such significant control over the entire fruit and vegetable production pipeline?
posted by junesix at 7:43 PM on December 12, 2007


Off-topic answer: Yes, i'm more than a bit concerned.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:55 PM on December 12, 2007


Off-topic answer: Holy shit.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Off-topic passing comment: What to do, though? Killing subsidies and buying smart? How long before that farm bill comes up again?
posted by paul_smatatoes at 8:42 PM on December 12, 2007


My house of the future is built of strawbales.

Just a little tip... you might want to watch out for this guy.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:47 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Conclude your tour in the sleek living room, with its giant, non-operational, wall-mounted television screen.

Well, they got one thing right.
posted by loquacious at 5:23 AM on December 13, 2007


Has it biodegraded yet?
posted by tommasz at 5:50 AM on December 13, 2007


I can't help but think of the Voyage through Inner Space ride at Disneyland whenever I hear the name Monsanto. That was some seriously freaky shit for a five-year-old kid back in the early '70s.
posted by malocchio at 8:12 AM on December 13, 2007


Bit of a tangent, but Pentex is what I always think of when I think of Monsanto.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:06 PM on December 13, 2007


"Death" is the association that inevitably pops into my mind.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 AM on December 14, 2007


That's quite funny. When I first read the part about the wrecking ball on another site, I thought it was just another snarky blog comment.
posted by jeversol at 9:26 AM on December 14, 2007


At the Beijing Urban Planning Museum (Yes, I know, you are wondering, "they have Urban Planning in China?" No, of course they don't, silly, but they claim to, thus the Museum) they have a similar plastic monstrosity they call the "Future House" (photos found here)
posted by Pollomacho at 9:44 AM on December 14, 2007


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